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After close to eight hours of being held in a tiny little room by two CSIS agents I was released with no idea as to why I had been held or why they kept asking me about Michelle. I wasn’t exactly going to argue the point though. Whatever it was about didn’t concern me as far as I cared and I had my niece to worry about. The only thing I could discern from the whole experience was that the government was interested in my old flame. For all I knew they could just be doing a background check for possible government employment. Why in the hell Michelle would want to work for CSIS was beyond me but I pushed it out of my mind. It had nothing to do with me.
I focused on the more pressing matters I had at hand, like finding a ride back to the base to pick up my car and finding out what happened with Evelyn. Thankfully there was a voice message on my phone from Gillian who said that she had gotten my message and had picked up Evee like I asked. She had taken her to work with her and would check by the apartment later to see if I was back. With that cleared up I called a few friends who lived on base to see if they were off duty yet and if so could they come and pick me up. Sadly the only person who was available to come and get me was Masterson.
Masterson and I had met in the first few weeks of our military service. Both of our roommates at the time had VR’d (Voluntary Release) and the two of us got stuck together as roommates. We were never what you would call ‘close’ friends from the very beginning, but we didn’t exactly hate each other. That changed when Gillian came back into my life. Like most guys who end up falling for her, Masterson fell hard and even a few years later he still blamed me for his missed chance with her. I tried to tell him that he never had a shot with her but it was just too mean.
Thankfully he happened to be in town doing a little shopping and agreed to give me a ride back to base with him as long as I paid for gas, which was pretty stupid if you asked me because he was already going back to base anyways. I didn’t argue though, I needed the ride or my car would be stuck on base without me.
The long trip back to the base was quiet, well vocal wise at least. Masterson had the radio turned up as loud as it could possibly go. I think neither of us really wanted to talk so it wasn’t that big of a deal. Seeing him again though brought a fuzzy memory back into my brain about him grumbling across the table from Gillian and me at the club after she had just lied to him about the two of us dating. I felt bad for the guy but I didn’t say anything about it. It didn’t really bother me that Gillian was using me as a shield to push the guys back, but when one of them was someone I worked with it got a little more complicated. She really needed to just stand up and tell them the truth instead of hiding behind a beard.
Masterson pulled up to where I had left my car at and I was happy to see that I hadn’t been blocked into the driveway when Jimson had gotten home from work. As I opened the door to get out of Masterson’s car he turned down the volume on the radio and asked me to wait for a minute.
‘Look I’m sorry about the other night,’ he apologized.
‘I was a bit of a jerk,’ he smirked. That didn’t really narrow it down though because he was usually a bit of a jerk, even when you were on his good side. ‘At the bar,’ he added.
‘It’s fine man.’
‘I know. Anyways there’s this house party going on next weekend at my place here on base so you and Gillian should come.’
I was a little surprised when he asked me to come to his party and bring the person he blamed me for stealing. I couldn’t help but wonder if he was going to try and pry Gillian away from me if we did come. Well at least pry her away from her fake boyfriend.
‘Don’t think I can,’ I answered as I stepped out of his vehicle, ‘With Evee and everything it’s hard to get away from town.’
‘Bring her along,’ he smiled, ‘Tremblay’s wife is having a sleepover that night to give the guys with kids a night off to just let off some steam.’
‘I’ll have to think about it,’ I sighed.
I went to close the car door when Masterson stuck out his arm and prevented it from closing. Ducking down to see what he wanted now I was met with a grim expression. ‘If you’re not going to come for me then you can at least come for the others,’ he said, ‘It’s the last party for my section before we’re deployed overseas.’
That caught me off guard. I had completely forgotten that an entire battalion on base was getting ready for a seven month deployment to the Middle East in a few weeks’ time. I’m not sure how I could have forgotten about that though. Over the last four months the entire base had been gearing up for this, hosting training exercises to get the guys ready. I myself had spent two straight weeks in the field with the guys helping them out as much as I could because I had seen combat before.
‘You sure know how to lay on the guilt,’ I laughed and got a small smile back, ‘Fine I’ll be there. Don’t know if Gillian will want to come but I’ll let her know what the party is for.’
‘Thanks buddy. The guys will really love it. I’ll text you the details later.’
I closed the door and Masterson gave me a small wave as he pulled back onto the narrow road between the rows of small two story homes and drove off back to his place. I felt a little cornered but I knew I couldn’t just ignore the party. I remember what it had been like for me when I was about to be deployed. The base holds a family day with various activities but the real stuff gets going later that night with all the parties.
When I had been handed my orders for deployment I had been scared shitless about going into a theater of war. No amount of training could ever prepare you for that feeling. My brother, his wife, and Evee had made the long trip from back east to come to the family day which helped a little bit, but what had really gotten me over the hurdle of fear had been the party I went to that night. The older more experienced soldiers always showed up to those parties to support the ones who were being deployed. I remembered talking to a guy who had served three tours in Afghanistan and the insight he gave me helped a ton. There was no way I could deny that kind of help to anyone.
I decided not to tell Gillian about the party until a few days before it. I knew if I gave her enough time to think about it she would back out and there would be no getting her there. While she thought I should get out more and have a little fun she wasn’t too keen on drunken military parties. The only one I had ever brought her to had been a disaster and she swore never to go back to one. The details of that party were a little fuzzy but I was pretty sure I had puked on her by the end of the night. Of course that was before Evelyn came to live with me. Since then I think I had matured quite a bit so I was sure there wouldn’t be a repeat.
‘No,’ she told me fiercely when I talked to her about it the night before. I already had Evee on board; she was actually pretty excited about spending the night with some friends on base. From what I heard the sleepovers were just as legendary as the parties were. With a lot less alcohol of course.
‘Please?’ I begged turning on the puppy dog eyes as hard as I could.
‘No way in hell Ty!’ she groaned and got up from the couch where we had been watching a movie, ‘The only thing missing from those parties on your base is a sacrificial virgin! They’re nothing but raunchy testosterone filled bonfires!’
Obviously trying to use charm wasn’t going to work here so I switched gears and attacked from the flank, ‘It would be kind of odd if I showed up without my ‘girlfriend’,’ I said with a slight grin, making quotation marks with my fingers in the air, ‘After all most of the guys on base now think we are dating because of what you said to Masterson back at the club.’
‘That is not fair!’ she turned and fixed me with a deadly gaze. She was pretty cute when she was trying to act angry with her nose all crinkled up and her lips in a solid line across her face.
‘Who says I fight fair?’ I laughed and her death stare intensified, ‘Besides even Evee is going. Well not to the party but she is spending the night with some friends on the base. Come on, we’ll make a whole day of it. We’ll go hang out at the Family Day and hit up the barbeque before heading to the party. Besides you didn’t come to the last family day before I was being deployed so I think you owe me.’
That did it. Her angry expression relaxed and her arms that had been tightly crossed over her chest loosened and fell to her sides. She felt guilty about not coming to my deployment barbeque and it had really hit her hard when I had been shipped back from Afghanistan by medical transport and stuck in a hospital for three weeks. Besides that she couldn’t deny Evelyn a day of fun on the base so I knew she had no choice but to agree now. This was her fault after all.
‘I really hate you sometimes,’ she seethed and then walked into the kitchen to grab herself something to drink.
‘That was a bit mean,’ Evee giggled from beside me on the couch with her face buried in her cellphone like so many people now-a-days.
‘It worked didn’t it?’ I laughed and she couldn’t argue with that point.
The day of the barbeque and party came quickly. It was apparent that Gillian still wasn’t okay with the idea of the party but she swallowed her problems and did her best to have a good day at the barbeque. Evee had been there for my deployment barbeque but to be honest I don’t think she really enjoyed it as much as she could have. Between the speeches of honour, duty, and sacrifice and the tearful goodbye’s families were given to their children and loved ones Evee had been pretty broken up about me going into war.
When I wasn’t being the one being shipped off to get shot at though she allowed herself to have a blast and try out everything the base had to offer that day. She stuffed her face with chips, hamburgers, and hotdogs until I was sure she was going to explode and then headed into the various buildings to check out the weapons used by the military, get behind the wheel of a LAV, use night vision goggles, and even make her way through the obstacle course they had set up for the kids to enjoy. I hadn’t seen her this happy in a long time and I was glad she was able to enjoy being on the base for once instead of always associating it with bad things. She steered clear of the wall of remembrance that listed all the fallen soldiers from the base with large framed pictures and medals though. I couldn’t really blame her for that one, I hated the wall too.
With the day winding down we decided to get a quick bite to eat at the local restaurant on base before taking Evee over to her sleepover. The food was always good there and Evee even managed to stuff down a helping of desert as well. I had no idea where she put all that food because she was a thin girl. Watching her eat sometimes was like watching a lion devour its prey, only Evelyn didn’t have the distended stomach afterwards. Which was probably a good thing because that would look pretty weird.
Evee was all too excited to see her old friends again and I barely even got a goodbye hug as she grabbed her overnight bag and rushed into the house with a giggling gaggle of teens. Gillian laughed at my annoyance as I got back into the car but I ignored her and headed towards Masterson’s place where the party was supposed to be. It was still early in the evening and I wasn’t really expecting many to be there yet so I was surprised when I pulled onto the street and found the entire area lined with vehicles and the sound of loud music blaring out of an open door.
‘This looks fun…’ Gillian grumbled as I found a place to park.
There were so many people there I thought the entire battalion had to be at the party. They were milling around outside the house, packed wall to wall like sardines inside, and the backyard had been set up with a large white tent like we used out in the field sometimes with at least four dozen people under it. Everyone had beers or other assorted drinks in their hands and so far it looked pretty tame but I was sure as the night went on that would change pretty quickly.
Before I could even step foot on the front steps to head inside Gillian grabbed me by the arm and pulled me off to the side of the house so no one could hear what we were talking about, ‘Let’s set a few ground rules before we go inside,’ she said seriously, ‘If I want to leave at any point I expect you to drive me back into town no matter what okay? So don’t have too much to drink. I expect you to stay by my side the entire night because I really don’t feel like being hit on by some guy just looking for one last lay before going off to war. Got that?’
‘Yes dear,’ I answered and grabbed her by the hand to sell the idea that we were actually dating.
A lot of the people at the party were from the battalion that was being deployed in a few days but spread out among them I saw a few faces that I recognized from my own battalion. Hitchens was even there with a few other people who we trained with and I immediately made way over to a group of people I knew seeking shelter from everyone else.
‘Masterson said you were coming but I didn’t believe him,’ Hitchens said when he saw me. When I got within arm’s length he grabbed a couple of beers from the cooler next to him and handed us each one while Gillian gave me a stern look reminding me about not drinking too much.
‘It seemed like the perfect place to show off my arm candy,’ I laughed nodding towards Gillian. She groaned like I had insulted her but gave me a little nudge with her shoulder playfully.
‘So you guys really are going out?’ Hitchens asked looking us both in the eyes. I really didn’t want to lie to him as well, he didn’t deserve it and he was probably the best guy friend I had in the world but I knew Gillian wasn’t going to drop the pretence just in case the truth spread.
‘Yeah,’ I answered with a little hesitation, ‘It’s a new development.’
‘I call bullshit on that one! You guys have been by each other’s side since you first met.’
I’m not sure why but I could feel myself blush at his comment so I quickly looked away and took a sip from my beer before turning back to him. Gillian was being awfully quiet considering this was her brilliant idea but I figured she was feeling a little out of place at the party. She only knew a few people there and every once in a while I would catch her pulling out her phone and looking at the time like she was counting down the minutes until she would want to leave.
Masterson found his way over to us about ten minutes after we arrived and I was mildly surprised to see that he actually smiled at Gillian and me holding hands under his roof. He looked to have been drinking for a while before hand though so he was probably feeling pretty good right about then.
‘I told you Hitchens!’ he trumpeted and lightly punched our friend on the shoulder, ‘You didn’t believe me but I told you they would come!’
‘I was wrong,’ Hitchens admitted between swigs from his beer bottle.
‘You so owe me a bottle of Jack Daniels!’
With a small smirk Hitchens reached into the cooler by him and pulled out a bottle filled with dark amber booze and tossed it into Masterson’s out stretched hands. ‘If you didn’t think we were coming why did you bring the Jack Daniels?’ Gillian asked curiously.
‘Sometimes I like being wrong,’ he winked.
‘Come on Anders,’ Masterson said ushering me to follow him, ‘there are a few guys I want you to meet.’
I didn’t really feel like going with him but it was his party and his house so I didn’t really have that many options, and besides he seemed to actually be warming up a bit to me again so I didn’t want to ruin that as well. Remembering what Gillian had told me about not disappearing on her I pulled her by the hand and followed after Masterson as he headed into the kitchen.
There was a keg set up with about a hundred or so red party cups scattered around. The kitchen was probably the most packed area of the entire house and Masterson had to push through about twenty people to get to the counter by the back door. Four guys dressed in their Civi’s (Civilian clothing) were huddled around a large blue cooler stuffed to the gills with hard alcohol. They looked around eighteen or nineteen in age and each of them shared the same haunted look in their eyes that I remembered too vividly before I was shipped out.
‘Guys this is the one I was telling you about,’ Masterson said to them once we got to where they were standing. Even though we were all off duty and not in uniform they snapped up, stopped slouching and gave me a hard look in the eyes like I was used to when dealing with new soldiers.
‘How’s it going?’ I said and shook each one of their hands. They visibly relaxed and went back to their drinks between mumbled hellos.
‘You really got shot?’ one of the men asked and I suddenly realized why Masterson had brought me to see them. Training for combat and being in combat are two separate things and once you found out you were headed into hell the excitement you once had for being a soldier quickly wore off as the realization that you might not have a lot of time left on this planet sunk in.
‘You’re looking at a winner of the Sacrifice Medal,’ Masterson smiled and I had to repress the shiver that was threating to run the length of my spine. I hated the term ‘winner’ because it sounded like I had won the prize of getting shot. Gillian didn’t seem to like that term either because her hand tensed in mine and out of the corner of my eye I saw her look away from the conversation.
‘What happened?’ the youngest looking guy asked. I had no doubt that Masterson had told them the story already but they wanted to hear it from the source it seemed. I couldn’t blame them either, Masterson was known for making claims that usually turned out to be untrue or blown out of proportion.
Gillian’s interest was suddenly piqued and she turned back to face the group of guys with a look of fear and sadness written all over her face. She only knew vague details surrounding what happened to me in combat. She never asked and I never told because it was a pretty sore point between us. The reason we got into a fight when I signed up for the military was because she had a feeling I was going to get hurt or killed, so when she was notified that I had been badly wounded in combat her fears had been realized and it only made her feel worse. It seemed now though that she was over her denial about the whole incident and was just as curious as anyone else.
‘Well I was shot in combat,’ I answered and a sour look ran through the group of guys who were around me.
‘Well no shit,’ Masterson said loudly, ‘But tell them the whole thing!’
‘Fine, fine,’ I sighed. I launched into the story of how I had been wounded during a fire fight with insurgents. The CIA and CSIS had gathered intelligence that a compound out in the highlands held vital information on the location of a top Al Qaeda asset and my section had been tasked with attacking the compound to clear the way for Intelligence Officers. The Intel we had been given on the strength of the opposing force had been wrong, very wrong. We were only to expect small arms fire from about twenty armed men but when we got there we found ourselves in a shit storm.
We were attacked by .50 calibre mounted machine guns, RPG’s, and anti-tank mines spread all around the compound. The twenty men we were supposed to find there turned into nearly sixty and they seemed to have an almost endless supply of ammunition and assault rifles. Once we realized the error it was already too late to back out and take cover and we had a few men seriously injured in the first few seconds of the assault. Hitchens, a few other soldiers, and I found shelter behind a mud brick house on the edge of the compound and started to return fire to allow the guys still stuck out in the open fields to get closer and find their own form of shelter. That’s when things really went to hell for us.
We found ourselves pinned down by enemy fire when an old soviet grenade landed in our midst. You truly do not understand fear until you are sitting there in that moment with a grenade at your feet. I’d like to say in that instant I was thinking of the others and there was nothing but courage in my heart but in truth I was scared shitless and only thinking about saving my own ass. I kicked the grenade away as we all dived off to the side, right in the line of a couple of insurgents on a roof raining bullets down on us.
The grenade only rolled about ten feet away from where we were lying on the ground and when it exploded in a ball of black smoke, dirt, and shrapnel the concussion rocked my entire body and it felt like my head had just been slammed between two pickup trucks going full out. I knew I was still in danger so with blurry vision and an intense ringing in my ears I got back to my knees and trained my rifle on the largest building in the area and just opened up on it hoping to at least make the enemy duck their heads for a few minutes.
As my hearing started to come back I could hear Hitchens screaming out for help so I quickly turned to him where he was laying prone on the ground with his rifle sitting a few feet away from his open hands. He had been closer to the grenade when it had exploded and it had scrambled his brain pretty bad. Again I wish I could say I was brave in what I did next but it had nothing to do with courage in the face of death, it was just instinct. I slung my rifle over my shoulder, grabbed my friend by the shoulders and started to drag him back behind cover.
It was in that moment that I was hit by a lucky bullet through the back of my left shoulder. It was the most intense pain I had ever felt in my entire life and I really have nothing else to compare it to. All I can say was that it hurt so bad I felt my eyes roll into the back of my head and I fell onto my face right in the middle of an intense firefight. The bullet had missed my shoulder blade and spine, shot right through my lung and shattered a rib trying to get out. I would have bled to death if Hitchens hadn’t gotten back to his sense and started to patch me up in the middle of a hailstorm of bullets.
I had to receive surgery to repair my lung and set my rib and then I was sent back home with a little silver medal with the Queen’s picture etched on one side and a statue from Vimy Ridge on the other. Five other men had been badly wounded by the end of the battle and it turned out the intelligence the CIA and CSIS was looking for in the first place wasn’t even there. The compound was just a staging area for the insurgents and we had caught them in the middle of a training program. It had been a waste of time and blood.
‘That’s intense,’ one of the guys said and the others nodded solemnly. Gillian who had been listening intently to my whole story remained quiet and took a long swig from her bottle of beer, finishing half the thing in one shot.
‘Try being there,’ I said like a total idiot and quickly regretted it. These men were going to be there very soon and you could see the freaked out looks in their eyes from a mile away. ‘Just keep your heads down out there and remember your training. You’ll do fine.’
The party continued to rage on into the night and more and more people were starting to show up. The MP’s had been by the house a few times to tell Masterson to keep the music down but they didn’t really hassle him too much about it, they were being deployed soon after all. When midnight rolled around I figured Gillian would want to make a hasty escape now that we had been there for a few hours but surprisingly she was starting to enjoy herself. She was drinking a little more than what I was used to seeing from her but I ignored it mostly.
The group of guys I knew really well had migrated out into the backyard where someone had lined up a row of shots for most of the veterans, a sort of salute. Our battalion tradition was that veterans had a shot first quickly followed by the soldiers being deployed. It was kind of like passing the torch from one group to the other. I had already had two beers and I still had to drive back into town so I let another guy do my shot for me.
I was standing under the tent with Hitchens and a few other buddy’s when Gillian came rushing towards me with a strange look in her eyes. In her inebriated state she had gone off to use the bathroom without dragging me along for shelter and it looked like it had been a mistake. Without so much as a word she tripped into my arms and planted a sloppy kiss right on my lips just as some guy pushed his way into the tent right behind her, his eyes dropping once he saw she was with someone already.
I expected her to break the kiss right after she had done it and was sure the guy was backing off but instead she continued the drunken kiss until I finally pulled away from it. I could feel my cheeks blushing hotly and I tried to avoid looking into her eyes. That had been the first kiss I had had in a long time and surprisingly it was a lot better than I thought it would have been. I could almost feel the heat coming off of Gillian’s cheeks as she clutched my arm and held me close under the scrutiny of the guy she had been trying to avoid.
I felt like asking here where that had come from. All she had to do was just come up and hold my hand to hammer the point home but I realized she was more than a little drunk so her brain was probably pretty rattled right then.
By the time we left the party at around one in the morning it was still going strong and only a few people had left up to that point. Gillian didn’t seem like she would have minded if we stayed another hour or so but I was getting pretty tired and wanted to get home and into bed for a good night’s sleep before I had to drive back to the base in the morning to pick up Evee from her sleepover.
I walked Gillian to her apartment with no incident and made sure she was alright before heading back to my place for the night. Without Evee there it felt pretty empty and I realize it had been a long time since she hadn’t been there for the night. Even when she and Gillian had their little sleepovers it was always at my place so there was the feel of life in the apartment most every day. Evee was getting older though and I realized soon she wouldn’t really want anything to do with me as her teenage moods started to set in. I dreaded those days ahead.
Three months passed from the party and Gillian never spoke of the kiss we shared that night. She was back in classes for her final year of University and Evee had just started her first year of high school. It was weird sending her off to high school when it only felt like I had graduated the year before. What was even stranger than that though was the day when Evee came up to me one morning before the start of the school year and said she thought she needed to start wearing a bra.
Needless to say I was a little freaked out about the idea so I was more than happy to let Gillian take over and do whatever was necessary. I was perfectly content being blissfully unaware and ignorant while the two girls went shopping for something that would fit her. When they got back to the apartment with half a dozen bags full of undergarments I hid out on the balcony for an hour because they decided to go through everything right on the couch in the living room.
It was two weeks into the new school year when the memory of Michelle and nostalgia caught up with me. It was the weekend and I was like a zombie after a hard training course at work so Gillian took Evee off my hands for the night and they had a movie night and sleepover in her apartment. I knew Gillian was already swamped with school work so I wasn’t sure how she would find the time to look after a rowdy teenager but I was glad none the less.
With the apartment to myself I pulled out my old high school yearbook and sat down on the couch before a muted television. Flipping through the first few pages I was swamped suddenly by memories of walking down those cold brick halls filled with laughter, screaming, and general teenage angst for five years of my life. I could almost smell the sweaty gym socks hiding inside lockers around the halls. I stopped in the grade ten section and picked out Gillian with her goofy smile and small zit on her forehead that she had been fretting about the entire picture day.
It was hard to think she was that much younger than I was because most of the time she was the moral center of the family and by far the most mature of all of us. The first time I had met her she was a tiny little thing with a scared look on her face trying to navigate her way to her first class of the year. I felt bad for her and showed her where to go and said if she needed any more help to just track me down. She never left my side after that.
With a small smile fuelled by those memories I flipped to the back of the book to find my graduating class. That was a good time in my life as picture day had been two months before the end of the school year. Michelle and I were still an item and I had just purchased the promise ring for her birthday. I was one of the first smiling faces in that section and I couldn’t help but notice how much I had changed looks wise in the last eight years. I was bigger and stronger looking than I had been back then but my eyes were also devoid of the haunted look they now carried.
Midway through the class I found Michelle’s picture, her eyes bright with the prospect of the future and her hair perfectly layered over her shoulders. She had spent most of the morning in the girl’s washroom fixing her hair and makeup in preparation for the picture and like always it turned out well for her. I stared at that picture of her for what must have been a few hours because when I finally looked up the movie that had just been starting was already rolling through the last little bit of credits.
I put the book on the coffee table and got up to stretch my muscles and get something drink before I called it a night. When I got to the fridge for a glass of milk however, I found the empty carton sitting on the top shelf. For a brief second I got mad at Evee for leaving an empty carton in there until I remembered that I had actually been the one to do that in the morning when I used the last in my coffee.
I really didn’t want to go out and get more but the prospect of not having milk for my coffee when I got up was just as horrible so I figured I would get it out of the way then. So I grabbed my keys off the hook by the door and rushed out to get it before it got too late. The only thing open at that time of night was a small convenience store a few blocks over. I really didn’t want to buy the milk from there as they marked it up almost two hundred percent but I really had no other choice. So I bought it and grumbled about the price the whole time I was at the till.
The second I was standing outside my door with my key already in the lock I realized something didn’t feel right. I can’t really explain it but it felt like a tingling on the back of my neck, the same feeling I had before we assaulted that compound in Afghanistan. Since that day I had learned to listen to that feeling as it was never wrong so this time was no different.
The door was still locked and as I slowly crept into the front hallway. I couldn’t see anything wrong with the place. It was fairly windy outside so if a window had been broken I would have been able to hear it howling through the ragged hole. Something was still nagging at me though so I knelt down at the tall table I kept by the door and found the metal safe hidden behind a pile of shoes under it. One thing I would never tell Gillian or Evee was that I kept a sidearm hidden in the safe just in case I ever needed it. This felt like one of those times.
I quickly grabbed the 9mm Browning Hi-Power from the safe and pulled the slide back to chamber a round. I slid my finger over the trigger guard and cradled it like I had been trained before creeping into the living room. The television was still muted and showing a new movie, the light dancing across the shiny paper of the yearbook that was still on the table. Not finding a moving shadow or even a hint of anything missing I moved through the kitchen and down the hall towards the bedrooms.
Evee’s door was ajar so I stuck the tip of the pistol into the room ahead of me before opening it wider. The room was dark but nothing was out of the ordinary here either, well except for the massive pile of clothes piled up on the floor and all over her bed. I would have to talk to her about that later. That left only one more room in the house that someone could be hidden in so I slowly walked across the hall until I was standing right outside my door which had been closed even when I had left earlier to get the milk that now lay abandoned on the floor by the safe.
Keeping the pistol in my strong hand I gripped the door handle and readied myself for anything that could be behind it. I took one last shallow breath then swung the door open, quickly stepping into the room and checking my corners before I found a slim figure standing by my closed window with their back to me. My quick entry hadn’t seemed to faze them and they continued to face away from me so I quickly turned on the light overhead and trained my weapon.
That definitely got their attention and as my brain began to take their appearance in they turned around and I could feel my world start to shatter around me. She had shoulder length blonde hair with light silver streaks through it and a very lithe and athletic figure that screamed both strength and speed. It was the eyes that struck me the hardest though. They were the same colour I remembered them being but there was now a haunted look hiding behind them that I recognized from every time I looked into a mirror.
‘Michelle?’ I gasped and she flashed me that crooked little smile I used to love so much. I could feel the weight of the gun in my hands and I was at a loss as to what to do with it.
‘You might as well put it down,’ she said like she had just read my mind, ‘You must not use a sidearm at work very much if you can’t even tell the difference in weight between a loaded pistol and an empty one.’
A little bewildered I lowered the pistol and ejected the clip finding it completely empty. Looking back up Michelle nodded to my bedside table where I spotted thirteen shiny 9mm bullets standing up straight. How the hell had she gotten into my safe and why did she even know to look there? A little dejected about being that easily disarmed I slipped the clip back into the weapon and tossed it onto the bed which was only a few feet away from me.
‘What are you-’
‘Doing here?’ she asked finishing my sentence for me like she used to back in the day, ‘I wanted to see you.’
I shot her a sceptical look and she supressed the smile she had been wearing before going on. ‘I was in town on some business and I figured I would come and say hi. It’s been eight years after all.’
My heart and mind were warring with each other at that moment and it felt like my entire being was going to be torn in half from the turmoil. I couldn’t believe she had the audacity to be standing there in my room in the middle of the night saying she had wanted to say hi after what she had done to me eight years ago. At the same time though my heart was swelling just at her sight and the sound of her voice, it so desperately wanted things to go back to the way they had been.
‘You left me remember,’ I said through clenched teeth as my brain was momentarily in control of my actions and voice. The second the words passed over my lips I saw the hurt look on her face and I quickly regretted it, but honestly it was the truth. We hadn’t seen each other in eight years because of her.
‘I never stopped caring for you Ty,’ she said softly and my heart gave a great leap like it was trying to burst out of my chest. I quickly swallowed the feelings I was having and tried to fix her with the most hurt look I possibly could.
‘You had a funny way of showing it.’
Sighing Michelle took a few steps away from the window and closer to me but I instinctively took a step back at her approach and she stopped. The memory of being held by CSIS and asked all sorts of questions about her popped into my mind and I couldn’t help but feel a little weary of her. I had come to almost loathe the agency and she seemed to be linked to it somehow.
‘Ty-’ she started to say something but I quickly held up my hand and silenced her.
‘A couple of your buddies from the agency came to see me,’ I said angrily like she had been the one to send them, ‘They seemed really interested in how I knew you and what you were like back in school.’
Michelle didn’t say anything at first. Her face darkened for a minute but quickly snapped back to neutral as her eyes glanced around the room. I had seen this little act before and I knew she was trying to think of a way to say something.
‘Just spit it out!’ I demanded and she jumped a bit at the sudden change in my voice.
‘It’s the reason I had to leave you Ty,’ she said so softly I could barely make out her words, ‘It’s complicated really, I’m sure you can understand that. I work for CSIS.’
I tasted bile rising in my throat and I had to swallow hard a few times to get rid of the stinging sensation. It explained a lot though. Why I had been questioned about her, why she had just up and left in the middle of summer and left me hanging like some love sick puppy. She had probably been approached because of her grades and tests scores or some nonsense like that. What it did not explain though was why she refused to tell me anything, not even a fake story about why she could no longer be with me.
Once again she seemed to be reading my mind because she even started to explain that as well. ‘Look Ty I’m really sorry about what I did to you. I just didn’t know what else to do. I had an extraordinary chance right in front of me and I had to take it. I didn’t leave you because I stopped loving you,’ she said and took another small step towards me, ‘In fact it was the other way around.’
She continued to advance closer to me and my brain had all but abandoned me as her words were soaked up by my thumping heart and used as fuel for my feelings that were now bubbling up with a rapid expansion. One step, two steps, and a third step she was only a few inches from me and I could smell her flowery perfume on her skin and the light scent of her lilac shampoo. I loved the smell of lilacs and it made my head dizzy to know she still used that type of shampoo.
Before I realized it she had taken both of my trembling hands in hers and moved her face only a fraction from mine as she spoke softly like I was the only person in the world, ‘I had to leave you because I loved you too much. Because I still love you so much. If I had stayed I would have been happy and cared for, but not content. I needed to do something with my life.’
I heard her words fall on my ears like stones but I could only process a few of them as my heart was now swelling to the size of a balloon in my chest. I could have sworn she said she still loved me. Her lips were so close to mine it was almost unbearable and when I looked into her shimmering eyes I could see them wavering like she was afraid. Afraid of what I did not know but the look was so mesmerizing I lost myself. I leaned in sought out her lips with my own for a timid kiss.
She returned the timid kiss and at first it seemed that was all it was going to be. But as the seconds began to tick by and we got accustomed to the feel of each other once more the kiss grew in intensity. Our hands began to roam over the others body as eight years of angst and feelings came crashing down on us like tidal wave of desire. The dreams I would sometimes have of being with her could never compare to the real thing and it felt like every inch of my body was on fire, each nerve ending tingling under the pressure and pent up sexual desire.
No words were spoken as we began to shed clothes off and tripped towards the bed, landing in the soft sheets as the pillows were all but forgotten. In the back of my mind I knew what was happening shouldn’t be but I couldn’t control myself anymore. It was like someone else was making me continue and honestly I didn’t care at that point. Michelle was finally back in my arms and I never wanted to let her go again.
Before I knew it we were both completely naked with our hot bodies pressed up together. I could feel her hands trembling as she ran them over my body and I began to wonder if she had been with anyone since her and I were last together. I had been with two other women but only a couple of times each. They hadn’t been that great of experiences and once Evee came into my life the need for sexual conquests was pushed onto the back burner. Even with those other times I was still as nervous as a virgin again and I kept fumbling with my hands trying to remember where she liked being touched.
My hard cock was pressed into her stomach and was starting to feel a little uncomfortable in that position so I reached my hand between us and went to adjust it. She seemed to think I wanted to be inside her because she arched her hips providing enough room to position myself at her entrance. I needed no further signs than that and quickly pressed the head of my cock between her velvety folds. Like in the most recent dream of her I had had a few months back she sat back on my cock and impaled the entire length of it in one go.
She was extremely tight and very hot, the walls pressing in on my member from every side as her whole body began to tremble under the feeling. This will probably sound corny as hell but it just felt so right, like two puzzle pieces being locked together to finish off a masterpiece. Michelle and I had always had amazing chemistry and from the very first time we had ever had sex that chemistry had transferred easily into the bedroom.
As my mind began to get used to things once more Michelle began to rock back and forth on me while continuing to kiss my lips so hard that our teeth knocked together with intermittent chattering sounds. Each time she rocked forward I would give a little thrust up, and each time she rocked back I would sink my hips into the mattress providing double the penetrating action. It had always driven her nuts when I did this and I was happy to see the effect was still the same years later. Her little squeaks and moans were pushing past her tongue and into my mouth which only spurred me on more.
Her soft breasts were pressed firmly into my chest and I could feel the nipples straining to be free from the constriction. She had wrapped her arms around my neck and was holding on tightly in case I tried to move away from the kiss and I placed my hands firmly on her hips to guide her up and down on me as the pace quickened. A thin layer of sweat had built up between us and the combined heat from both of our bodies was wreaking havoc on my mind as everything started to feel a little cloudy.
I could already feel my balls starting to tighten up as my orgasm neared and by the feel of her muscles clenching around my intruding cock Michelle was already racing towards one of her own. Her soft moans had turned into full on grunts now as she slammed her body down onto me repeatedly while her lips were firmly sealed around my own. Michelle loved kissing and not even an intense orgasm had ever gotten her to break a kiss during sex. It was one of the little things I loved about her so much.
Her arms around my neck were getting tighter and tighter and I knew she was really close now. It felt like she was trying to strangle me in reverse. Suddenly her whole body tensed and began to tremble on me as she practically screamed into my mouth, her sweet smelling breath shooting straight into my lungs. The muscles in her pussy went into over drive and rippled all along the shaft and head of my cock as my balls suddenly released themselves inside her body. With each shot spewed out a little chunk of my strength went with it. With one last moan from Michelle and a single groan from me she relaxed into my arms and I fell asleep to blissful dreams I hadn’t been graced with in many years.
When I awoke the sun was streaming in through my window and lighting the room up in a dazzling light that shot warmth through my entire body. For one amazing second the activities from the previous night came rushing to my mind and I felt a smile spread across my face, but it quickly faded the next second. Michelle was no longer in my arms and when I rolled over to look at the other side of the bed it was empty and looked like no one had even slept in it.
Still feeling a little woozy from the vigorous exercise I had just gotten that night I swung my legs off the bed and picked up my clothes from where they had been tossed hours earlier. All of Michelle’s clothes were gone and the door the room which had been open the night before was now firmly closed. Getting a little nervous as to where she had gone I walked out into the kitchen hoping to find here there, but no dice.
I heard a soft sigh coming from the living room and my heart leapt as I quickly rounded the corner with a big grin on my face and the words ‘there you are’ on my lips. My heart quickly sank though as I found Gillian and Evee sitting on the couch watching television huddled under a blanket for some reason. At the sight of me dressed in the previous day’s clothes and probably a wild look on my face they both raised their eyebrows as if to ask ‘What in the world?’
‘You okay Ty?’ Gillian asked with a touch of concern.
I wanted to tell her that no I wasn’t okay and ask if she had seen Michelle leave before I had gotten up but I quickly realized bringing Michelle up with Gillian was never a wise choice. So I nodded my head once instead and retreated into the kitchen to get some coffee that Gillian had put on for me when I had gotten out of bed. I reached into the cupboard and pulled out my favourite mug, placed it on the counter and grabbed the coffee pot. I was just about to pour myself a cup when I noticed a piece of folded up paper nestled in my cup.
I put the coffee pot down and pulled the paper out, unfolding it to find a small note written in very girly handwriting:
I’m sorry for everything. Things are only going to get worse and I am truly sorry for what I have just done to you. I hope one day you can understand.
The note made no sense to me and feeling a little angry about letting myself get caught up in the heat of the moment the night before I quickly tore it into a hundred little pieces and dumped it out the open kitchen window to fall like confetti on the sidewalk below. I tossed the coffee cup back into the cabinet and turned to head back to my room and escape from the real world for a few hours when Evee called out a question from the living room. Feeling that I couldn’t just ignore her I walked back into the living room to find her with my open yearbook on her lap and pointing to a picture. Gillian’s eyes were wide open looking at it and she shook her head in disbelief.
‘What’s wrong?’ I asked but it was Evee who answered.
‘You guys went to school with my substitute English teacher, Ms. Atkinson’ she said with a smile. Curiosity getting the best of me I walked over and looked at the picture she was pointing to; Michelle Franklin.
A million thoughts ran through my mind in that moment but I had no time to reflect on what was happening as the front door to my apartment was smashed off the hinges, exploding into the hallway a few feet from the living room. Six men and women in SWAT gear rushed into the small apartment, their SMG’s raised and pointed at the three of us sitting on the couch. Two men in light grey suits under bullet proof vests that said POLICE on the front of them followed closely behind the SWAT team with their small pistols held at the ready. I instantly recognized the two men as Agents Travers and Smith.
While two members of the SWAT unit stayed in the living room with their guns levelled at us the rest of them spread out through the apartment in a room to room search. After a few seconds one of them called out ‘All clear!’ from my room. Agent Smith quickly holstered his pistol and rushed over to where I was standing with my hands in the air.
He grabbed me roughly by the shirt and started to shake me while yelling loudly, ‘Where is she?’ over and over again.
‘Where’s who?’ I asked even though I knew the answer already.
Ten minutes later I found myself back in that same interrogation room in the dismal government building in the heart of the city. Both Gillian and Evee had been brought down for questioning as well but thankfully I was the only one who seemed to be pulled into this little hell hole they liked to call the Interview Room while the girls were seated in more comfortable looking chairs out in the bullpen.
There was no dancing around the subject this time as both Agents walked into the room with sour looks on their faces like someone had just stolen their lunch money. Agent Smith, who hated my guts for some inexplicable reason, sat right across from me and pulled out his standard issue service pistol and placed it on the table between both of us.
‘We know you were with Michelle last night,’ he said through gritted teeth, ‘Tell us where she went and you might just get off with ten years in prison!’
I was done playing their stupid little games of misinformation, or in this case no information and I ignored his question and instead barked out one of my own, ‘Why are you looking for her?’
‘That’s none of your goddamn business!’ Smith spat back, literally. I wiped the flecks of smelly saliva off my cheek and looked him dead in his beady little eyes.
‘If you want my cooperation you need to be a little more forthcoming with your intelligence!’
That seemed to set Agent Smith off and he fisted his pistol, pointing it right into my face. I had no doubt that he would have squeezed the trigger and created one hell of a mess for the janitors to clean up that night but a man who had been hiding just out of my sight in the shadows of a corner of the room stepped into the light and told Smith to lower his weapon in a gruff voice.
The man was obviously a senior intelligence officer and was way past his prime. His stomach bulged in his dark navy blue suit and the few hairs he had left on the top of his head were a mixture of grey and white. His eyes were a faded blue colour and he had heavy bags under them like he hadn’t been sleeping very well lately.
‘Would you excuse us Agents?’ the man said in his rough voice. Smith looked at him like the man had lost his mind but the complaint he had been about to register died on his tongue before he quickly slunk from the room with Travers right behind him.
The new man sat down at the table where Agent Smith had been seated a minute ago and he pulled out handkerchief, dabbing the sweat that had been building on his forehead with it. He folded it once and put it back in the inner pocket on his suit before flashing me a small smile.
‘I’m sorry about all of this Corporal Anders,’ he apologized but it did nothing to ease my tension, ‘I’m sure this all must be pretty confusing for you.’
‘Yes, sir,’ I said trying inject a little respect into my voice but to no avail.
‘I’m in quite the predicament here,’ the man mused, ‘and I’m afraid you’ve just been dragged into the middle of it with me. Oh, where are my manners. My name’s Thompson.’ He held out his hand and I begrudgingly shook it. Thompson was obviously a high ranking official within the government and I was in the military so to show him no respect could be career suicide.
‘What predicament would that be sir?’ I asked and he smiled as I called him sir again.
‘I do love dealing with soldiers,’ he said wistfully, ‘always so damn polite, almost to a fault. But sadly this is no time for politeness. Before I say one word I need to ask you once more if you know the location of Michelle Franklin.’
I thought about ignoring the question like I had with Agent Smith but this man, Thompson, was obviously not like the cheaply dressed thugs he had working for him. Besides I had no idea where Michelle was and as far as I was concerned I owed her nothing after what she did to me last night.
‘I’m sorry sir; I have no idea where she is. When I woke up she was gone.’
‘She left no note or letter saying where she was going?’ he asked.
‘No, sir,’ I half lied. She had left a note but there was nothing written about where she was or where she was going.
‘Okay then I have only one more question I need to ask you. This is a big one though,’ he said with a sigh. ‘You see I can’t tell you about anything that is going on in this case if you don’t have the proper security clearance, which you do not. However, from time to time, the military and intelligence community work together for the greater good and I feel that it is time to reach out to our brothers in uniform on this case.’
‘Sir?’ I asked not sure what he was getting at but having a bad feeling it wasn’t going to end well.
‘You’ve served your country for eight years and have even been wounded in the line of duty saving one of your comrades. In my books that makes you an extraordinary man and that’s exactly the kind of thing I want to inject into this agency. How would you like to come work for us?’
I stared at him dumbly for a few seconds while his offer sank in. I was at a total loss of words in that moment and all I could think to ask was ‘does the job come with dental?’ which was not something I should be concerned with in that moment. Thomas looked at me meaningfully and I knew his offer was on the level but I still couldn’t grasp it. It was like trying to hold water in a clenched fist. Difficult.
‘Michelle doesn’t work for you anymore does she?’ I asked and he shook his head with an almost hurt look in his eyes. ‘She’s done or is going to do something horrible isn’t she?’ This time Thompson remained still but I could see the answer in his eyes now. Michelle was not the same person I knew in school.
‘I need an answer solider,’ he said gently like he was almost afraid for me.
‘I… uh I need some time to think if that’s possible.’
‘I can’t give you much time,’ he answered, ‘and you wouldn’t be allowed to leave this room.’
I thought about that for a minute. I had been hoping to talk to Gillian about this even though I already knew what her answer was going to be; NO! But now more than ever I needed her guidance. I was already formulating an answer in my mind and it scared me that it was so easy. Michelle had hurt me, again. And if she was wanted by CSIS that could only mean whatever she was up to was not good for the national security of the country.
I was a soldier, sworn to protect my country with my life and stop those who would do her harm with everything at my disposal, but this was pushing it. How had Michelle become the enemy? How had things gone so wrong? I don’t think I could ever physically hurt her myself but I also knew I wouldn’t want someone else out there searching for her with a lethal solution. The desire to get to the bottom of what was going on was like a burning poker jabbed right into my brain and it was spurring me on.
‘What would happen to my niece?’ I asked as Thompson continued to look at me mournfully.
‘She could be transferred into temporary custody with Ms. Rogers until you were able to take full custody of her again. Or if you liked we could send her to a foster family while you were away.’
‘I want her with Gillian,’ I said more fiercely than I had intended but Thomas just smiled gently at me.
‘So you have made your decision?’ he asked.
I took another moment to think about it but nothing changed. I had to know what was going on and now I knew Evee would be safe while I was gone. ‘You can count on me, sir.’